By Rev. Dr. George Mulrain
The World Methodist Council was actively involved in an International Conference marking the 277th Anniversary of John Wesley’s Conversion (“Aldersgate”). This took place in the International Conference Room at the Methodist Theological University (MTU) in Seoul, South Korea, on May 26th and 27th, 2015. The conference, which drew a cross section of interested persons in a number of categories – clergy, laity, seminarians, theological faculty, mission personnel – had as its focus the theme “Wesleyan Theological Education for World Evangelism.”
Dr Jong Chun Park, President of the University, expressed his delight in welcoming participants to this significant event. The fact that addresses were given by Dr. Stephen Gunter (Duke Divinity School, USA), Rev. Dr. Kyunglim Shin Lee and Rev. Dr. David McAllister-Wilson (Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington DC, USA) and Dr. Wonsuk Ma (Oxford Center for Mission Studies, UK) demonstrated MTU’s interest in having institutions from the North participating in this academic exercise organized by the South. But equally noteworthy was the participation, through lectures, of members of the Steering Committee of the World Methodist Council: Rev. Lauren Matthew (South Africa); Bishop Teresa Snorton (USA); Mr Joshua Rathnam (India); Archbishop Michael Stephen (Nigeria); Rev. Dr George Mulrain (Jamaica) and Dr J C Park himself.
Conference attendees benefited from stimulating discussions that emerged on aspects of the theme, but by far the most significant, from an MTU perspective, must have been the attention given to the proposal to establish a Graduate School of World Evangelism. The pros and cons, necessity, funding, ongoing financial support, partner institutions, marketability, and sustainability were among the items carefully dealt with. Advice on any of these will be most welcome as MTU undertakes to respond to divine directives in this twenty-first century context.
World Methodist Council participants expressed their satisfaction about the conference. Also mentioned was the excellent hospitality they received from the Methodist family in Korea. A city tour on the eve of the conference provided the opportunity for participants to get to know one another in a less formal context. Indeed the 277th anniversary of the Aldersgate experience was well celebrated.